Signs are up outside AT&T’s West U. building on Bellaire Blvd. announcing the changes the carrier wants to make to allow service vehicles to load and unload gear in its backyard. Laid down on a row of 4 former residential lots in 1970, the parking lot was expanded by 2 parcels in 1975 and now backs both the telecom building and the Whole Foods–anchored shopping center adjacent to it. Service vehicles and their associated personnel have used the lot since it was first paved, according to the company’s rezoning application.
West U. officials signed off on the land’s new use for parking back when it was first paved. The question now is what is what sort of backyard activities are permitted within that area — an issue on which the city has flip-flopped. In 2016, it gave AT&T the all-clear to keep conducting service activities in the lot. But following a challenge from a neighboring resident that same year, officials changed their minds. AT&T filed a lawsuit in response, but just this January agreed to work toward a settlement with the city.
A public hearing on the zoning request was originally scheduled for June 11 but was postponed to a date TBD — prompting some timely yard sign edits like the one shown below
That kind of signage now wraps the building and its adjacent lot on both Academy and Ruskin streets, where it faces off from the carrier’s own blue rezoning signs. The map above outlines in red the full extent of AT&T’s abutting properties, with the building indicated by the long blue portion and the parking lot running laterally behind it.
The lot supplements slant parking spots that front the building along Academy:
To the south, behind the structure, the lot backs up to a brick wall:
AT&T is also requesting that employees be allowed to park their personal cars in the lot, and — if they wish — eat food and nap in them during the workday.
- Rezoning Application (PDF) [West University Place Zoning & Planning Commission]
- Council OKs consultants to search for new West U city manager [Instant News West U]
- Fireworks at City Council over AT&T zoning request [Instant News West U]
Map: AT&T. Photos: Swamplox inbox
The wonderful world of zoning.
Since it’s across the street from any houses, wouldn’t actually be “nimfy?”
Uh, we will be by your location between the hours of 12 and 6. We will need you onsite the entire time, and no we will not give you a courtesy call when we are on our way.
Once again, thank God Houston doesn’t have zoning. This is what happens when you empower people to restrict the property rights of others. It’s absurd that a single resident who knowingly purchased property across the street from an active telecommunications facility wields so much power over the necessary business activities of one of West U’s largest taxpayers. Enclave municipalities like West U are basically venues for the top 5% to abuse the zoning powers delegated to them by the state in order to artificially inflate property values. It’s no different than what’s happening in Palo Alto, except prices haven’t quite reached that point.